You might say Mary Starring, owner of Starring the Gallery, has an eye for art. Or at least an eye for inventory.
“I’m not an artist and I don’t profess to be. I just know how to buy it, I guess,” Starring says with a laugh.
As Executive Vice President of a successful packaging company for 15 years, inventory control comes easy for Starring. So when she decided to open her own business, something she had always wanted to do, she took her talent in a whole new direction, opening Starring the Gallery in downtown Northville in 2005.
“I’ve always wanted to do something in downtown. I’ve lived here for 25 years," Starring said.
Starting out with a friend in 2002, they set up a booth at the Victorian festival, selling photography.
“We sat there for three hot days and boiled and decided maybe this isn’t the way to go about it,” Starring said, while laughing. “Eventually, I saw the hole being dug for this building and thought, this is where I want to be.”
Six years later, Starring still enjoys purchasing art from all over the world. You'll find items normally only found overseas, but you'll also find original creations by local artists.
“Over half of what’s in the store are items by local artists,” Starring said. “They come to me or I go out to some of the fairs and ask if they’re interested in selling with me.”
Stacie Beyer of Novi, one of Starring’s newest artists featured, is very excited to sell her art in the gallery. She started her unique form of art, using broken Depression glass to make one-of-a-kind windows, at her home for fun, but is now selling to the public.
“I was too afraid to come out of my basement,” Beyer laughed. “I started four years ago with my first window. I was creating a lot of it, with no place to go and people were telling me they really liked them.”
Then, she came upon Starring's gallery.
“She came to the back of the store and asked for the art house,” Starring said. “So I went in the back to see what she had and these things are gorgeous. She sold five of the six she brought in [that weekend]. I said you have to bring me more. Those are the things I love to do. If I can help someone, that’s great.”
Beyer, now working on more windows for the gallery, is still reliving the recent excitement of selling her art at Starring the Gallery.
“I can say it was the best experience of my life,” Beyer said. “I experienced some success, which was a lot of fun, thanks to Mary. She’s so gracious. I can see why she’s having a lot of success there.“
Jonell Linskey regularly shops at Starring. She especially likes going during First Fridays, when all the downtown shops stay open a little later.
“I find that store is a very welcoming addition to Northville,” Linskey said. “Her products are absolutely wonderful. She’s there to help and everyone who works for her also gives that impression. The interaction is wonderful; it’s genuine. It’s just a great experience.”
Starring stays busy outside the gallery as well. She’s on the board of the Downtown Development Authority, the NCBA (Northville Central Business Association), is VP of Programs for AAUW (Association of University Women), and her favorite job, grandma. Her time is limited, so she does what she can.
“I’ve always wanted my own business,” Starring said. “Here it is. I do the best I can with it.”
For someone who has so much on her daily schedule, she keeps her goals simple.
“I’d like to make this (the gallery) really successful, be a grandma and travel.“